Artist Point is one of the most unique, easily accessible and truly breathtaking areas in the Pacific Northwest for engagement photos or an elopement. There are few other areas that allow you to get so high into the alpine. There is truly nothing quite as breathtaking as standing by one of the reflecting ponds as the sun rises over Mt Shuksan as you have this corner of the world to yourself or to stand in the last teals and pinks of the alpenglow as the sun has long set behind Mt Baker. The North Cascades never disappoint

bride and groom laugh in sunset Artist Point hiking engagement

What is the best part of Artist Point?

Summit

Artist Point access the high point of Huntoon Point along Kulshan Ridge. The most common spots go east from the parking lot along the ridge. There are various pathways that bring you out this arm towards Mt. Shuksan (including a few paved pathways). During late summer, this is also where you will find a few reflecting ponds. All of these areas are very accessible, but only the paved areas have ADA access (but, you can still see some rad views and there is a little pocket if you’re looking for an elopement spot). This is really popular not just for engagements, but for elopements as well because of its easy access.

West of the parking lot at Artist Point, you’ll find more traditional trail areas that go up to American ridge and out towards Mt. Baker. Though these are beautiful spots, they are not quite as easy for photos as with the Kulshan Ridge area.

Heather Meadows

The bowl between the Mt Baker Ski area and Artist Point above, the Heather Meadows area is a beautiful series of mountain lakes. This area is nestled in the base of mountains, so won’t have as direct sunrise options, but is 1000 feet lower if the weather changes quickly and has absolutely spectacular fall colors.

bride and groom walk along rocks Artist Point hiking engagement

Reflection Lake

Another can’t miss spot for a Mt Baker elopement or engagement photo session is reflection lake. This is just below the ski resort parking lot and gives a perfect reflection view of Mt Shuksan.

Leave No Trace

As with any engagement session or elopement, it is really important to take into account the Leave No Trace principles. Though most of the Artist Point area does not have given trails, it is still vital to stay on the pathways that already exist or to walk on the boulders. Be very cautions with the plants in the area because they have an especially short growing season.

Best time

Artist Point is accessible via car during the summer months. It is accessible during other times of year, but this is the only time of year when you can simply drive to the top. Also, it is a very popular location for day trips during the summer. So if you’re hoping to spend the day up there, daytime during weekends is very busy. 

Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful. One of the biggest opportunities that Artist Point offers is the ability to be in the alpine without any work. 

As Artist Point sits on a ridge with Mt. Shuksan to the East and Mt. Baker to the Southwest. Over the accessible season, the sunrise and sunset will change location. I suggest using a tool like the Photo Ephemeris to know exactly where the sun will rise or set. Generally, in the early summer, the sun rises to the North of Shuksan and also Mt Baker. But as it gets later in the season, the sun will rise to the south of the mountains. 

Passes

For day use of Artist Point, Hidden Meadows and the area, a Northwest Forest Pass is required. You can also get a day use pass for just $5. A pass is not needed during winter months.

Winter access

Artist Point is also accessible for snowshoeing, cross country skiing and ski touring. But, it can also be a great option for a more adventurous engagement or elopement. Though you can not drive to the top, it is only 4 miles round trip to hike up from the ski resort parking lot.

bride's dress shimmers Artist Point hiking engagement

When is Artist Point open?

Artist Point is open during the summer months. That usually means May-October.

Can you camp at Artist Point?

There are no camp sites at Artist Point. It is the parking lot for many major hikes in the Mt. Baker area, so overnight parking is accessible with a Northwest Forrest Pass and climbing permits.

How do you get to Artist Point

Take Highway 542 East from Maple Falls. The road is open during plowing season, which is usually May-October. It’s about 1.5 hours from Bellingham or 3 hours from Seattle.

What amenities are at Artist Point?

There is a bathroom at the parking lot for Artist Point. There is also a lodge/bathroom at Heather Meadows.

Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement
bride and groom kiss in sunset Artist Point hiking engagement

For one couple, Page and Stephen we did an engagement session at Artist Point. The day after I started following Page on Instagram, she posted about how they “accidentally” went on an 11-mile hike. So, it was only natural that we would head up into the mountains for a hiking engagement session that celebrated their love in the most beautiful places around. I never expected that they would show up in the fanciest clothes of any couple to come to one of my engagements. Seriously, they’re just too classy for their own good. The evening was just too incredibly beautiful up in the mountains. It was just a perfect mix of class and natural beauty.

Artist Point hiking engagement
bride and groom dance Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement

Then, it was time for a new look and the last light falling over Mt Baker and the entire peak.

Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement
Artist Point hiking engagement

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